Thank you.....

None of us got to where we are alone. Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone’s help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying thank you
— Harvey Mackay

A simple thank you is the best investment to give and the best dividend to receive. How often do you yearn for a straightforward thank you from your boss, your partner, your children? I've spent countless opportunities encouraging my children to say thank you from the moment they make their first baby noises. Ta They still need a prod from time to time but hopefully it will become an automatic response. 

A thank you is not just a sign of good manners but can really make a difference to someone's self esteem and boost confidence. 

In a previous office based life I could spend days swearing at technology and grappling with spreadsheets and data to produce a report that would be checked and double checked before sending off to a boss at an increasingly tightened deadline. Of course I would never receive a financial bonus or promotion for doing it - but a simple thank you and recognition of my efforts would have gone a long way. Likewise when hours have been spent in the kitchen preparing a new recipe for dinner a simple thank you when served makes it all worth while. 

In my current business Thank you's are just as important. I love to receive emails from my 'brides' saying thank you for their flowers. Even after countless weddings I still get terrible butterflies hoping the flowers meet the brides often high expectations. To receive a little thank you just reassures and boosts moral the for the next one. 

And I should say a huge thank you to you - For reading this blog, for following me on social media and liking and sharing my work and images. I say thank you for taking the time to be interested in Church Park Flowers, for giving me the encouragement and for helping me reach new audiences. Without you my business would not be what it is - so genuinely - thank you

But who else should we be thanking? Is there someone that needs recognition this summer. Thank you for feeding the fish, helping with the childcare, watering the tomatoes.... A simple thank you you may go a long way but imagine how much better it could be with a locally grown British flower bouquet. So order yours today (with delivery available in the area) and make sure you say thank you in style 

Thank you...

Posted on August 29, 2016 and filed under Bouquets, Gifts, Flower Farm.

British Flowers Week

If one takes pride in one’s craft, you won’t let a good thing die. Risking it through not pushing hard enough is not humility
— Paul Keating
british flowers locally grown.jpg

It's British Flowers Week. It's also National Picnic Week and today is National Sewing Machine Day!! So why do we need a week dedicated to British Flowers? 


We live in a world where we are all interested in the provenance of our food, our clothes, our politicians   - so why not our cut flowers? The UK fresh cut flower and indoor plant market is worth £2.2 billion a year. (The UK music business is worth £2 billion so you can see that it is big business) The average spend per year on cut flowers is £28 per person, which has also risen considerably since 1984 when it was just £8 a head. But compare it to our European neighbours - they spend a whopping £60 - £100 per person per year!


A majority of our flowers are imported from all around the world where warmer climes and cheaper labour make it economic to grow on large scales. Columbia, Kenya and Israel being the top growing countries. 
In fact just 15% of the £2.2 billion is grown in this country. But this equates to £300 million so I'm happy to be a teeny weeny part of that. 


Before moving to Devon around 8 years ago, I had a florist business on the Kings Road in Chelsea. I used to visit the Covent Garden flower market two to three times a week where I could buy any flower all year round. I felt I was spoilt. 
I had one particular customer who only ever wanted white tulips, every week they bought white tulips. 
I could buy these tulips in June and sell them to her for £5 a bunch. Of course I was making a profit on that, I had overheads but still made a profit. The seller at the market made a profit selling them to me. They had been shipped from Holland where the auction house had made a profit on them. They had been flown from New Zealand where the grower had made a profit on them - and paid their workers a wage. All for a final retail value of £5? Where is the ethical value in that? And how exhausted must those tulips be to have travelled that far through numerous handling and different climatic zones.


Now I love tulips, they are one of my favourite flowers. But not in June! Why buy tulips when you could have sweetpeas, cornflowers, godetia and many many other beautiful English flowers. All grown in the UK, ethically grown, fresh and providing demand for the growing army of independent growers across the country. I'm proud to be part of this network and work hard not just at growing the flowers but I work hard at growing demand for British Grown flowers  


There is a lot of focus in the media at the moment to be proud to be British - and I agree. There is also a lot of focus to be more like our European neighbours - and I agree with that too (spend more on cut flowers!) When shopping at the supermarket do you check where your strawberries for National Picnic Week are from? Do you look for British meat? I'm sure many of you do. Well next time you spend part of your £28 per head on flowers - make sure they are British!

(I'm hosting the Twitter feed for SmallholdersUK this week to help rise awareness of British Flowers - come join in!)

Posted on June 13, 2016 and filed under Flower Farm.

The Friday Photograph - Oversized Bouquets

if you are going to be thinking anyway, think big
— Donald Trump

Now I'm not one for actually even listening to Donald Trump but I was rather surprised to come across this quote and find myself, heaven a bid, agreeing. But I'm pretty sure he was not referring to the oversized wedding bouquet. 

Sometimes, just sometimes, big is better and I for one am loving the trend for these bold and beautiful oversized wedding bouquets.

With a wild asymmetrical structure of flowing foliage and statement flowers they truly make a wow factor as you walk down that aisle. 

Now you don't need to go too mad - after all you will be holding it for quite a while during the day and you don't want a sprained wrist by the end of it. But actually stem wise they are not a lot heavier than a standard bouquet and also won't break the bank either!

Of course it's not for everyone, you need the confidence to carry it off so you still 'own' the look rather than the bouquet taking over. Wear a simple fitted dress and this beauty will finish the look. 

These are a couple I made recently on the Tallulah Rose wedding flower retreat. The white one is a real favourite for me. For more inspiration check out my pin board

So, let's say it together, big is beautiful!

white oversized bouquet
pink oversized bouquet
Posted on May 27, 2016 and filed under Bouquets, Bridal, Friday Photographs, Weddings.

and the winner is........

I say luck is when an opportunity comes along and you are prepared for it
— Denzel Washington

I never enter competitions, I never buy lotto tickets - I always feel the odds are always too highly stacked against me for it to be worth the effort. So why I went against this habit for the Tallulah Rose competition must demonstrate the appeal of the prize. I mean, three days in an amazing location, being taught by one of the best in the business surrounded by beautiful flowers - that would be the jackpot for me! Sparkford Hall Wedding Flower Course Retreat?  This Cinderella was up for it! 

So 200 words or less on why it should be me? Let's see...........

I'm a flower grower and florist.

I spend time with dirt filled fingernails willing seedlings to grow, cursing slugs and rabbits and celebrating when I get the blooms. 

I spend time tweeting, facebooking, instagramming - spreading the word of British flowers.

I spend time talking 'jam-jar weddings' to brides and juggling quotes because they're on a 'budget'

I spend time studying Pinterest pictures, deciphering how to deliver bride's dream weddings

I spend silly-o'clock mornings in all weathers cutting and conditioning flowers

I spend time marketing my business - on my own tight budget

I spend time convincing my husband its a viable business

I spend time doing this with two preschool boys

I spend time doing all of this because I absolutely love flowers with a passion.

What I do not spend time doing, what I've never spent time doing, is learning how to arrange show-stopping flowers in a spectacular house by one of the best and having portfolio pictures to show for it.

For the experience, the confidence, the reassurance from fellow florists and, honestly, for the reward and touch of glamour the course would give me - I would love to 'spend time' at Sparkford Hall.

 

and guess what? I only went and won it!!!

Sparkford Hall here I come......

 

 

Posted on May 13, 2016 and filed under Bridal, Weddings, Workshops.

May the 4th - a Star Wars wedding?

Sometimes you must let go of your pride and do what is asked of us
— Anakin Skywalker, Episode 2: Attack of the Clones

So they are a Star Wars nerd. You've accepted that, you find it kind of endearing. Well it's better than being into fly fishing - right? But what happens when they want a Star Wars wedding? 

Not quite what you had in mind eh? But worry not as "fear is the path to the dark side" as Yoda once said. You can include the Star Wars world into your big day without dressing like Darth Vader or wearingbagels in your hair (remember that episode of Friends!) 

Star Wars buttonhole

Some subtle inclusions of galactical fun could actually make your big day truly unique and be a real reflection of your personalities. I've put a little Pinterest board together of some ideas I came across that are actually quite sweet. But how far you go to include the trilogy and beyond is up to you - and your obsessed partner. With Hans and Leia, Luke and Mara and even R2-D2 and C-3PO showing us how it is done there is always room for love and romance what ever Galaxy you live in. 

Mind you if you have your eye on Mr Hamill himself you may have some competition from the obsessed Sara. Check out her hilarious Instagram feed or through her blog

Photo by Tim Lamerton

Posted on May 3, 2016 and filed under Bridal, Weddings.

The Friday Photograph - the 1950s one

Marriage is a great institution
— Elizabeth Taylor

The 1950's. The decade of the first organ transplant, colour TV, the credit card, the opening of Disneyland, trials of birth control pills and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

All these key events are still heavily influencing society today and have really shaped the culture of the world we are currently living in. 

And no one can forget the style and glamour of the brides of the 1950's. Grace Kelly, Marilyn  Monroe (twice!) Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor (twice!) ....and my mum..... 

I met a bride to be and her intended this week who are recreating a wedding from the 50's. A beautiful rural setting so think 'Darling Buds of May' with buckets and baskets full of frothy English flowers. They're paying such attention to detail so I wanted to look into the bridal party flowers of the day. What was en vogue and sought after of that era. 

The look is informal and country. The palette is pastels of blues, pinks, yellows. An English country garden transported into the wedding. For a sneak look at some visuals I have put together a Pinterest  board 
In the main, high street florists were the only vendors of flowers. Dutch imports didn't start until the 1970s and growers were mostly regional. Florists purchased flowers from growers and wholesalers within 25 miles of their stores, and, sometimes, there were florists who were selling their own flowers they had grown themselves! (Imagine that? It will never catch on.....!) Internet searches show that, generally, flowers were white with very little additional colour. They were also seasonal as the flower import market was yet to take off. Lily of the valley in spring, maybe roses in summer but lilies and carnations were common place as grown in hot houses across the country. 

Asparagus fern was the foliage of choice, more often than not cascading through a shower bouquet. Gardenias and orchids featured in the celebrity bouquets but my mums bridal shower was .... shhh dare I say it ..... artificial! 

1950s wedding

At least Marilyn Monroe would have been proud of her footwear! 

I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot
— Marilyn Monroe
Posted on April 28, 2016 and filed under Friday Photographs, Bridal.

The Friday Photograph - The Cornish One

I’ll wait for you under the bluebells. I’ll be there always.
— Kim Harrison

Cornish Scillas: the cut flower growers Bluebell. With thicker and stronger stems than traditional bluebells, these beauties stand upright and behave themselves in vases and bouquets rather than flopping around everywhere. 

These vibrant blue blooms were grown at Clowance Wood Nurseries in Praze, Cornwall (Flowers by Clowance) And you too can enjoy these in your home as they are featured this week in Church Park Flowers at Johns of Appledore

Posted on April 15, 2016 and filed under Bouquets, Friday Photographs, Gifts.

Should Pinterest or your personality shape your wedding?

If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself
— Rollo May

I love Pinterest, I waste many an hour browsing through pictures of .... well just about anything. From gardens to kids crafts, campervans to wedding bouquets. It's an amazing source of images and articles in an easy accessible form that can be organised and kept for future instant recap

I also use it lots when I'm meeting and speaking with brides to be. It's a perfect way to get across pictorially the bouquets they like, their style, theme and thinking behind the wedding.  

But is it realistic? Is it achievable? And rather than giving ideas is it not just copying others ideas rather than encouraging original thought?

Images on Pinterest are the 'best of the best'. A majority of them are taken by professional photographers during photo shoots where the lighting is perfect, the models are beautiful, the budgets are astronomical and it all comes together to make an amazing 'wow' image that we fall in love with. But do we stop and think how that image captured in Southern California, in near perfect weather after hours of set up, make up artists and photo editing will look when recreated in wet windy north Devon?

We all want a fairytale wedding with towering cakes, 5ft high floral arrangements and designer gowns but unless we have a real 'prince' charming to finance it we have to be more realistic. Of course there are some great budget conscious ideas on Pinterest but are they your ideas or someone else's? 

I'm often sent the same images from brides to be of wannabe bouquets, centrepieces and arches. So how unique is your one special day going to be if you are merely copying ideas of others. 

Does your intended really love burlap and bunting? Yes it creates a beautiful rustic charm, but does it truly reflect what you and your partner are really about? Does it show your own individuality? Does it reflect your personality?

Of course use Pinterest to capture those great ideas and photos. But make sure they are reflecting what you truly love rather than poster pin ups of the best.  

Take inspiration from other things around you. That garden you pass everyday on the way to work that always catches your eye, your favourite dress at the back of the wardrobe that doesn't fit any more, but you can't throw away because the colour is delicious. That restaurant you went to with your fiancé last year on holiday that you still talk about. All these things are a true reflection of you and your fiancés personalities and loves and they should help shape the wedding of your dreams.

After all, do you want your guests to come to your wedding and look at your set up and say 'lovely - it looks just like that picture I saw on Pinterest' or do you want them to take one look and say 'wow' that is so 'you'!

 

Six ways to make the most of Pinterest when planning your wedding:

1 Manage your expectations
We can all be guilty of champagne taste with a sparkling water budget. Keep your budget in mind when your start pinning images. And don't forget seasonality - peonies may look beautiful but are very expensive out of season. 

2. Leave room for own style and ideas
Upload your own images rather than just repinning other people's images. You can add a Pinterest option to your uploads direct from your photo library


3. Use non wedding related Pinterest boards
Variety is key. Take inspiration from other streams such as travel, interior design or fashion. 

4. Include your offline life
You do have an offline life don't you?! Do you and your partner have a shared interest in theatre or 80's music or even rugby? Try and incorporate these shared interests into your wedding to make it truly unique. 

5. Narrow it down
It's very easy to get carried away and find you have hundreds of images. You need to get strict and delete, delete, delete. Hone the images down to less than, say, twenty and then you will have a clear vision of what you are wanting to achieve

6. Stick to it
Once you have your board - stop pinning! Move on to planning and physically doing else there won't be a real wedding to enjoy!

Posted on April 13, 2016 and filed under Bridal, Bouquets.

The Friday Photograph - the Preparation One

Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation
— Robert H Schuller

I like tidy. I border a little on OCD when it comes to my workspaces. But when there is a big job coming up my workshop seems to shrink and bursts at the seems with buckets, blooms and bouquets. 

This is the unorganised chaos of colour and scent that is currently filling my workshop ahead of a busy floral weekend. Check out the social media channels of Church Park Flowers over the next couple of weeks to see what "spectacular achievement" was created out of this "unspectacular preparation"

instagram / twitter / facebook

Posted on March 31, 2016 and filed under Bouquets, Bridal, Friday Photographs.

The Friday Photograph - the Good Friday

I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that.
— Gillian Anderson

So today is Good Friday, the day we gorge on hot cross buns knowing there is only another 48 hours until lent is over and we can go back to chocolate, gin, crisps - and all those other things that make us happy! It represents new beginnings and awakenings.  

Without getting too religious on you I did do a quick Google to find out why it was called 'Good' Friday when it's actual biblical roots are rather sorrowful. One school of thought is that it was actually a typo! Previously called 'Gods Friday' (Godos Fruday) a couple of letters got switched and howzat - Good Friday it was! Following this same school of thought maybe in several thousand years Church Park Flowers will become 'Chalk Perch Furrows' or 'Sprawl Chock Fuhrer'! (Visit wordsmith.org for an hilarious anagram generator)

But today is a very Good Friday for me for one key exciting reason. Church Park Flowers are now available to buy at Johns of Instow and Appledore! Two amazing, award winning delis who face each other across the Torridge estuary are now stocking posies and bouquets of locally grown British flowers. This week's selections are true Easter and Springtime tidings of scented narcissi, tulips, ranunculus and sprigs of contorted willow and birch. And as the seasons change then so will the selection of flowers. 

I'm pursuing the opportunity of a new beginning. Get yourself to a Johns deli, buy some flowers and join me in a Good Friday, Great Saturday, Amazing Sunday, Fab Monday........

Apes Therapy! 

(or Happy Easter!)